This weekend I went to Atlanta to visit an old friend. While I was there I discovered, by chance, that there was an Annie Leibovitz exhibit at the High Museum of Art.

For a brief moment, I thought maybe I didn’t need to go, because I saw her talk last fall in Berkeley, California, and I have her book Annie Leibovitz: a Photographer’s Life which the images in the show come from….but I was in need of a good dose of inspiration, so that moment of doubt didn’t last very long. I went with Betsy, an old friend who is not a photography person at all, and I got exactly the inspiration I was looking for.

The show was well worth the $15 entry fee….for me, I don’t know about for Betsy. I enjoyed staring at the faces in the enlarged portraits and then to getting in close to her smaller intimate personal photographs, that I am so happy she included in this collection. My favorite part was a side room that was filled with hundreds of small photos grouped in chronological order to show her editing process for the book. It was wonderful to stand and get lost in the walls of that room. I could have spent at least two hours in that section, but I was with Betsy the non-photography friend and she looked ready to go, and I had promised I wouldn’t stay too long…….so although I left earlier than I would have liked, by going with Betsy I was able to hear the reaction from a photography civilian…..she admitted she had a hard time telling which photographs were supposed to be good….she admitted they are better than ones she could take, but she thought some of them looked like ones I could have taken……now I don’t know that I agree with that statement, at all, but the point that I took was that it is important to remember that not everyone is as trained to see the differences in photographs as we, photography nuts, are.

The other thing that I realized is: unless you are taking photographs of celebrities…no one really cares that much….so you can do whatever you want. And on my way out of Atlanta, with my new inspiration and my new liberation, I visited Summer and Michael and their new baby Camden….the photos of her have received more hits than any of my other summer work. Why? Not because they are amazing but because her family who lives on the other side of the country cares……so photography can have different purposes…..we take photos to make us happy and we take photos to make others happy……it is nice to be able to do both.


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About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

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